A boy’s body is found in a cave in New Zealand as a school trip turns into tragedy
- New Zealand student dies while tragically caving after heavy rain
- Parents furious at Whangarei Boys High School
A body has been recovered from Abbey Caves, where a New Zealand high school student went missing during severe storms, as dramatic details of the ill-fated student field trip emerge.
Search and rescue teams found the body late Tuesday, after responding to an emergency call just before 10:30 am.
A group of Whangarei Boys High School students, accompanied by two supervisors, continued a caving trip despite severe thunderstorm warnings from MetService.
Whangarei experienced flash flooding on Tuesday morning after 60 millimeters of rain in the three hours to noon.
The student’s missing has caused consternation and anger in the Northland community, with many questioning why the journey continued.
A student from Whangārei Boys High School goes missing from Abbey Caves in Whangārei. (Google Maps)
Local media reports that the group of 15 Year 11 students was supposed to go rock climbing but changed plans due to the weather.
The mother of a boy who saw the lost child being swept away claimed New Zealand police ordered students not to answer their phones because anxious parents called to check on their safety after the school said they had been evicted by e-mail. email would respond.
“I just wanted to know if my son was alive or not. It’s worth more than a damn email. You think they would have the decency to call parents, not email them,” the upset mother, who asked not to be identified, told stuff.co.nz.
But she said her son described his teacher as “a hero” for getting him to safety when the water in the cave rose from waist to neck height within minutes.
“Twice he thought he was going to die. He called his teacher a hero. He tried to scramble up (out of the water) and felt his strength go and the teacher gave him a push.”
The boy who died slipped from a classmate’s grasp and was swept away in the strong current.
Two adults with the party tried in vain to save him.
School principal Karen Gilbert-Smith said an investigation would take place following the “hugely disturbing” incident.
“Over time, we will try to understand how this situation came about, but for now, I ask that we remain united as a WBHS community and provide support where needed,” she wrote in a Facebook post that drew hundreds of angry comments.
Superintendent Tony Hill said police planned to call off the search at 5pm on Tuesday but continued well into the night with the help of specialist equipment from Auckland.
“We recognize that this event has been deeply distressing to the school and the wider community, and that there are a number of questions on the part of the public,” he said.
“At the moment, the police focus is on supporting those affected, and we are reminding people to please not make any assumptions about what happened.”
The death comes after storms battered much of the North Island on Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
Auckland has declared a state of emergency after flash flooding brought traffic to a halt and caused accidents.
About 120 properties are being inspected after flood damage, with more than 300 emergency calls.
Weather warnings were lifted for NZ’s largest city on Wednesday, but remain in the Bay of Plenty and Marlborough.